These days, it’s rare for a business to lack a security system. Employers install video surveillance to curb criminal activity, whether it’s internal (like equipment theft) or from unexpected external threats.
Security cameras came a long way from the old analog CCTV cameras. There’s quite a menu of features to choose from, including selecting a system with audio recording. What are the benefits and rules governing audio surveillance cameras? Here’s what you need to know.
Do Security Cameras Have Audio?
Yes, you can purchase a security system with audio recording capabilities in addition to video recording ones. However, most of the older CCTV cameras you see do not have an audio feature built into the camera itself, which would be the case with more modern cameras.
Older security cameras that include audio recording features usually have an add-on microphone to capture sound. By comparison, more advanced audio surveillance cameras have sound capabilities built right in. Some of these modern cameras have one-way audio, and some have two-way.
Two-way audio systems let you use the camera to communicate with someone on the other end. Imagine being able to confront a stranger encroaching on your property after hours. That gives you an idea of the power of today’s innovative audio camera features.
The type of audio surveillance camera you use will determine how the audio and video images are captured and stored.
IP audio surveillance cameras feed their video and sound through the camera and into the cloud. The signal transmission digitizes the data and sends it wirelessly to a remote server. You can access that data through any digital device, whether it’s a cellphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop.
Analog audio surveillance cameras send the information they capture to an onsite DVR. The signal remains analog, and you must view the data directly from the DVR.
Most video surveillance cameras have an optional external microphone input jack. You can add a mic to the camera as an add-on feature. What are the benefits and risks of incorporating audio into your video surveillance tools?
What Are the Benefits of a Security Camera with Audio Recording?
Using one-way or two-way audio as part of your security system offers incredible business benefits. One-way security cameras with audio recording can capture important vocal data on tape to increase your surveillance capabilities. Integrating recordable audio capabilities gives you more details about activities happening in your business. It can also extend the reach of your security teams.
Today’s cameras are getting smarter. Imagine a camera that can flag not only visuals but sounds to alert you to a problem. For instance, a clever trespasser could, conceivably, learn where your cameras are placed and try to find blind spots, but they can’t hide the sounds that they make on your property. That’s just one of the benefits of a security camera system with audio recording.
See How Simple It Can Be To Secure Your Business.
Think of it this way. Your video surveillance system, like us, can use it’s brain, eyes, ears, and other senses to detect threats. Powerful video analytics on today’s modern IP cameras can detect and identify sounds even when a camera points in a different direction.
Modern sound detection software can detect and alert to a high decibel level (screaming, breaking glass, a gunshot). Alternatively, they can alert to a specific audio pattern. Unlike a constant audio stream, you could enable audio analytics that works in buffer mode to alert and record the specific incident. This makes for powerful forensic evidence, should you need it later on.
Two-way audio has also evolved over the years to make cameras more effective. Today, you can deploy audio and visual deterrents to proactively warn off intruders in addition to recording sound.
Audio and visual deterrents are 97% effective at scaring off intruders. You can use these two-way audio features to sound alarms or have a dialogue with an intruder, informing them the police will shortly be dispatched if they don’t leave immediately.
These capabilities are part of smart camera features that allow you to pan and zoom the lens. But there are also legal ramifications for recording with a security camera system with audio recording features. What are the risks of using these tools?
What Are the Risks?
Generally, recording audio surveillance footage is illegal. Federal wiretap laws normally prohibit recording sound from surveillance unless both parties know they’re being recorded.
While most states allow audio and video capture, there are a few exceptions for obvious reasons in places where a person may be getting undressed, such as a locker room. Keep in mind, video and audio surveillance laws vary by state. Businesses must follow the laws of their state before using these devices.
Many employers use video recordings of their employees to ensure safety and prevent theft. This seems to be acceptable under most state laws as long as the employees know they’re being recorded. But each state makes its own rules, which adds to the complexity of the issue.
For example, Delaware and Connecticut laws say that businesses have to notify customers and their employees if there is video surveillance “that may break any expectations of privacy, such as in a bathroom or changing room.” While these rules seem to lean more heavily toward the video portion of security surveillance, what about audio? This also varies by state.
Another example is Ohio. The Ohio Revised Code says it’s a crime to record any “wire, oral, or electronic communication.” However, it does not say you cannot use an audio surveillance camera to monitor and respond to criminal activity—just to record it.
Audio Surveillance Cameras: Does the Benefit Outweigh the Risk?
Augmenting your video capture capabilities with an audio component offers both benefits and risks. Audio surveillance cameras can add to the information you capture for better decision-making. But it also brings some legal risks to consider.
How you proceed from here requires expert guidance from the team at Pro-Vigil. We work with businesses to provide the best security surveillance capabilities technology and their budget will allow.
Talk with our team today about whether enabling security cameras with audio recording features is right for your business.